F irst shown at the ground-breaking 1916 show at London’s Leicester Galleries, Returning to the Trenches is one of C.R.W. Nevinson’s most recognised prints, and one of the most iconic images of life on the Western Front in the First World War. It leads a fascinating group of prints by the artist featured within the Made In Britain auction in London on 5 April; a sale that focuses on British creativity across the past century.
NEVINSON IN HIS UNIFORM, LATE 1914.
Like his close contemporary Paul Nash, subject of a major retrospective currently on at Tate Britain, Nevinson witnessed life on the Western Front at first hand, enlisting in the Friends Ambulance Unit in late 1914. Sent home in 1915, Nevinson began to record his impressions of the conflict via the medium of paint, pencil, pen and ink and prints – works which today are considered some of the most important depictions of the conflict.
C.R.W. NEVINSON, RETURNING TO THE TRENCHES, 1916, ESTIMATE £50,000–70,000.
Nevinson’s work struck a chord with both public and critics alike; achieved through the very successful synthesis of realism and modernism, and the body of printed works which he produced from 1916 have, like those of Nash as well as the many poets of the period, become the visual signifier of the conflict for later generations.
C.R.W. NEVINSON, SWOOPING DOWN ON A TAUBE, 1917, ESTIMATE £8,000–12,000.
Nevinson made use of different techniques, mediums and materials, often producing a pastel or pencil drawing, alongside a painting as well as an etching or lithograph of very similar compositions. The choice of medium on each occasion produced a subtle and slight alteration in the emotional impact of the composition, and Nevinson’s etchings possess a particular intimacy, as seen in the group of works featured within the Made In Britain sale.
C.R.W. NEVINSON, BRITAIN'S EFFORTS AND IDEALS: MAKING AIRCRAFT: SWOOPING DOWN ON A TAUBE, 1917, ESTIMATE £7,000–9,000.
To look at these images, over a century after their inception, you are drawn into the brutality and devastating loss of human life that the First World War witnessed. And, as with the work of Nash, Stanley Spencer or Mark Gertler you see the power that artists have always had in capturing these momentous social events; events which have shaped the course of modern life.
NEVISNOSN IN FRONT OF HIS AMBULANCE.
The Made In Britain auction is in London on 5 April